This Saturday we are doing Heian Yondan (平安四段), the fourth kata in our regular syllabus.
The Heian kata came to Japan from Okinawa, where Funakoshi Sensei gave them their Japanese name. Heian means “peace and safety.” These kata were developed from the advanced kata to play the same role we use them for today: as a gateway into karate training for beginners.
In Heian Yondan is most similar to the more advanced kata Kanku Dai. We continue to train back stance (koukutsudachi), forward stance (zenkutsudachi), and we get more practice with combinations of kicking and striking. The contrast between slow movements and full-speed rapid combinations is also important. It’s challenging at first to do the opening techniques of the kata slowly, arms and legs moving together from the center, with complete intention, then explode forward into the third technique. And the timing of the combination of kick, cover and strike leading up to the first kiai are different from much of what we’re used to up to this point. Throughout, our goal is to have our center initiate and control our movement to the sides, forward, and turning.
Especially now that we’re into the beginning kata again we encourage students of all grades to come to the Saturday kata classes. Even when we get beyond the kata you’re practicing, it’s great to begin to learn how techniques can be combined, and the practice in applying techniques is indispensable.
See you Saturday!
At SVSK our Saturday morning kata classes focus on one kata at a time. We typically spend four Saturdays on each kata:
Week 1: Overview/review of the kata
Week 2: Fine points of the techniques and the kata
Week 3: Hands-on practice to understand applications (bunkai)
Week 4: Variations in the kata